The Birds of the Ramayana is a series that presents the most prominent bird-characters associated with the Ramayana.
Forever, the story of Sampati seems to begin and end with the discussion with Angad, Jambavan and Hanuman in the Kishkinda Kaanda of the Ramayan. Most references begin explaining Sampati, and before you know it, the story of Sampati is over. When I began working on the âBirds of the Ramayanaâ project, most friends and experts who knew the Ramayana pointed out that I would have to work on Jatayu, and maybe, just maybe, Garuda. The presence and drawn out involvement of Kakabhushundi, the sage-crow, in the Ramayana had not even been noticed, much less remembered. Friends, who know birds, and those who are ornithologists, presumed that the Ramayana was choc-a-bloc filled up with birds, and perhaps that was the reason why I had started on the project.
The story of Sampati is similar in the scale of familiarity about Kakabhushundi. Those familiar with the Ramayana may have even forgotten about the meeting of the vanaras with Sampati in their search for Sita, after Sugreeva had sent them with a time limit of a month. It is indeed not so. Sampati and Jatayu have extremely tremendous allegorical relevance in Indian mythology and are splendidly representative of the reverence to bird life in our scriptures. Their stories mingle at one moment, and then they go their separate ways. It is so, for they were brothers. And yet, their later stories are completely different. They could not be more diverse. Though closely related to Garuda, they are a paradox.
The birds of the Ramayana - Sampati - is about the five significant birds of the Ramayana. Sampati, Jatayu and Garuda were blessed by their devotion and thoughts about Vishnu, and in the case of Jatayu and Sampati, with their single-minded devotion and wait for the avataar of Rama. The brothers, Jatayu and Sampati, are placed strategically in the great story of Ramayana, to occupy their ecological niche and utilise it. Jatayu fights his most famous battle with Ravana in the skies, when he tries to escape to Lanka after having abducted Sita away from Panchavati. The battle is entirely in the skies, and then comes down to the land when Ravana’s flying chariot is destroyed.
Sampati had lost his wings earlier and resided in a cave. Yet, he was very sharp of hearing and of sight, as would be most vultures, of which he is regarded as the progenitor in the scriptures. He is not able to fly, and he wishes he could have, for he would have also given a justifiable battle to Ravana. But, he is able to see, and he speaks of places beyond the horizon that other eyes cannot see or perceive. He does not meet Rama, unlike Jatayu or Garuda or Kakabhushundi. The good deed that he does for Rama does bless him, and he regains his wings and flies away. That is indeed the last we know of him from the scriptures and mythology.